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This picture was taken during a photography trip to California with friends in January 2019. The picture was taken as the sun rose over the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes in Death Valley National Park. I had visited Death Valley and the dunes a few years earlier but failed to get a shot of the dunes that I was happy with so there was some added pressure to on this trip to come away with a satisfactory shot.
On this particular morning, there were no clouds in the sky. I knew that a wide shot of the dunes with the mountain range in the background would be fairly ordinary without a dramatic sky so I chose to shoot with a long lens in order to isolate the shape of the dunes and emphasize the interplay between light and dark as the sun began to rise. Even with the 200 mm lens, this shot required a pretty good crop in post in order to fully realize what I had envisioned. I used Adobe Photoshop to dial in the colors from the raw file and balance the highlights and shadows.
If you've never been to Death Valley, I would highly recommend it. It is one of the more unique National Parks I have visited. It has everything from sweeping landscapes that can be accessed from the road to more unique and interesting compositions for the photographer who is willing to explore.